Industry heavyweights gang up against Google

Silicon Valley (CA) – Amazon, Microsoft and Yahoo have added their not inconsiderable weight to a coalition opposing Google’s plans for scanning books.

The Open Book Alliance is headed by the Internet Archive, a San Francisco outfit trying to set up a free digital library of Internet content and Gary Reback, a Silicon Valley antitrust lawyer. Although the coalition has not yet been officially launched, several library and journalism associations have already signed up, including the New York Library Association and the American Society of Journalists and Authors.

Google has reached agreement with the Authors Guild and the Association of American Publishers on royalties from electronic copies of books, with Google grabbing 30 percent. It also permits Google to sell ads on book searches involving millions of out of print books still protected by copyright.

The deal was inked last October and is still subject to court approval, with September 4 set as the deadline for ‘comments from interested parties’. Hundreds of writers, the National Writers Union, libraries and a group of professors from the University of California have already expressed concern over the deal, mainly in terms of the freedom Google would have to set prices and fears over whether Google would protect the privacy of users.

Amazon, Microsoft and Yahoo joining the coalition shows ‘the magnitude of the concern raised by Google’s book scanning efforts,’ says Internet Archive director Peter Brantley.

“By having a set of organizations speaking together, we can demonstrate the seriousness which we all confront by the issues raised by the proposal,” added Brantley. “We are all united in our understanding of the core issues, such as its impact on competitiveness and the threat to reader privacy.”

See also
EU to probe Google
Google faces antitrust action over book scans